Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back In The Day

Kady writes:

So, did we all savour that sweet, if likely fleeting moment of unanimity brought on by yesterday's NDP-penned opposition day motion on French language education for immigrants to Quebec, which sailed through the Commons without even having to go through the bother of a recorded vote?

Here's the motion she's talking about:

Mr. Mulcair (Outremont), seconded by Mr. Godin (Acadie—Bathurst), moved, — That, in the opinion of the House, recognition that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada means, in particular, that Quebec has the right to ensure that immigrants to Quebec must learn French first and foremost.


And here is the a brief account of the Supreme Court Decision that prompted it:

A group of Quebec immigrants has succeeded in striking down a controversial law that barred their children from entering English-language elementary schools.

This is the worst sort of pandering to Que. tribalism, and in essence serves to trap the children of immigrants(*) to Quebec in a French-speaking homeland surrounded by the great wild world. There was a time when none of the three major parties would have acceded to this rubbish. Now they're all doing it. For shame.

(*)Interesting: this piece claims a number of the students in question are are "native born French speakers who simply wanted to become bilingual."

14 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

and in essence serves to trap the children of immigrants(*) to Quebec in a French-speaking homeland surrounded by the great wild world.

Yeah right it does.

bigcitylib said...

An overstatement perhaps, for effect.

Gayle said...

I have not read the decision, but from the article I would say the motion is useless. A motion in Parliament cannot over rule the constitution.

Ti-Guy said...

Lemme guess, BCL: Your family was stationed in Val Cartier and the French kids were all mean to you? ;)

Yeah, well one time, in band camp, someone called me a frog!

bigcitylib said...

They laughed at my English.

Ti-Guy said...

Heh.

Anthony said...

The court upheld the right of Quebec's language laws to supersede the individual rights of the parents to choose what language their children are educated in. The Quebec law was just too harsh, and did not take special circumstances into consideration so the court gave them an extra year to write that part in.

Pablo Rodriguez put it best when he described this motion as "similar to passing a motion celebrating Christmas this year on December 25th"

Nobody is saying that immigrants should not learn French in Quebec, but when parents are realizing that English public schools are providing a better FRENCH education at the primary level than some French schools, it is no wonder that immigrants are seeking ways to get them into those schools.

50% of boys drop out of French public school before graduation...HALF!

This cannot be the fault of anglophones can it?

Ti-Guy said...

50% of boys drop out of French public school before graduation...HALF!

I wonder if they'll end up sounding less ignorant than people these days who, apparently, have advanced degrees, such as LL.D's, MBA's and Masters of Economics?

Jerome Bastien said...

If I may chime in, this is a self-defeating law, which discourages immigrants from establishing themselves in Quebec.

If Quebec wants to preserve its french identity, it should, you know, have kids above replacement levels.

Immigrants might then want to learn french voluntarily rather than forcibly.

Ti-Guy said...

Immigrants might then want to learn french voluntarily rather than forcibly.

Of course, they're never forced to learn English in the rest of Canada. It's entirely optional.

I thought people with names like Jérôme Bastien who live in Ottawa would be familiar with asymmetrical language politics, but I guess not.

The real mistake Québec has made is economic. On top of exhausting everyone with pointless referendum politics, the province lost a lot of time over three decades allowing a bunch of economically- and historically-illiterate socialists and outright Marxists to co-opt nationalism and make the province unattractive to migrants...who will learn Sanskrit if it means making a decent living.

Of course, if it had been a more prosperous province, the Albertans would have moved there and sent all of their kids to English schools, a Charter Right they'd all of a sudden care about. ;)

Jerome Bastien said...


I thought people with names like Jérôme Bastien who live in Ottawa would be familiar with asymmetrical language politics, but I guess not.


of course i am. and btw, i was called a frog too. my english was duceppe-like until my 20s (susnable daaaavlopmen). i managed to somehow get over it though.

The real mistake Québec has made is economic. On top of exhausting everyone with pointless referendum politics, the province lost a lot of time over three decades allowing a bunch of economically- and historically-illiterate socialists and outright Marxists to co-opt nationalism and make the province unattractive to migrants...who will learn Sanskrit if it means making a decent living.

Ti-guy, seriously, this is like twice in a week where Im in full agreement with you. Im very worried.

But why are you in disagreement with me? Why not try and make French a good proposition by itself, without government coercion?

I went to french school in ontario my entire life and so the only real crime one could commit while in school was speaking english. punsihed more severely than skipping class. and it still produced a bunch of english-speaking assimilated morons who couldnt speak their mother tongue if their life depended on it.

point is, coercion doesnt work. the quebec french population is dwindling since the revolution tranquille. while that revolution was greatly overdue they threw the baby out with the bathwater, quite literally.

Ti-Guy said...

But why are you in disagreement with me? Why not try and make French a good proposition by itself, without government coercion?

You need a variety of measures in a diverse society to preserve certain fundamental aspects of that diversity. And things take time. When Bill 101 was enacted, English Canadians shrieked about what a fascist outrage it was. Now, everyone's accommodated to it.

My brother-in-law works for Bombardier and had to resign himself to francisation du lieu de travail. At first, he was really hostile to it. Years later, he's completely bilingual and doesn't think about it anymore.

Jerome Bastien said...


You need a variety of measures in a diverse society to preserve certain fundamental aspects of that diversity.


est-ce trop naif de croire que la diversite pourrait se maintenir et meme se developper en l'absence d'intervention gouvnernementale?

I for one will make damn sure my daughter can read/write french and not be an another assimilated franco-ontarian, for multiple reasons which im sure you understand.

thing is, its the same for immigrants. they come to a new country and often have to learn or improve on a second language (typically english). then the quebec gov says your kid has to learn french. well the kid is going to learn french, also he will likely learn english. and he wont have time to learn the language his parents grew up with, or at least the majority of them wont.

and you're right that if quebec was an economic power (which it has the potential to be), perhaps immigrants would want to learn french voluntarily and maybe even english-speakers would consider french-speaking as a major asset for something other than gov jobs.

but economic growth without democratic growth is pretty tough, and quebec's democratic growth is strictly from immigration. which means learning french is increasingly "just a measure to ensure diversity", and is thus bound to fail.

Ti-Guy said...

est-ce trop naif de croire que la diversite pourrait se maintenir et meme se developper en l'absence d'intervention gouvnernementale?

Oui, c'est naïf. Le statu quo linguistique/culturel est toujours soutenu par le pouvoir de l'état, partout au monde.

perhaps immigrants would want to learn french voluntarily and maybe even english-speakers would consider french-speaking as a major asset for something other than gov jobs.

That's not unusual in Québec now. I think the issue is specifically about the quality of English-language instruction in French schools. Which might be legitimate, although it's not any better in English schools either, everywhere in Canada.

And achieving fluency is not something the schools can do all on their own. If the parents are concerned about their children not being exposed to enough English, well, they should take more field trips to the West Island and observe the native-speakers in their natural habitat.